Booking a dive vacation in peak season is a necessity for many of us, bound as we are to work schedules. But just because everyone else is also looking to travel at Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, or another popular time doesn’t mean that you’ll have to fight crowds everywhere you go. Here are nine tips to make your peak-season vacation as stress-free as possible.
Top tips for booking a dive vacation in peak season
- Book as far in advance as possible. With limited capacity, you will have more choices for accommodation, flights and other activities if you book ahead. This will also save you money, as demand determines pricing for flights and rooms. This is especially important if you intend to use reward travel. Some operators offer discounts for pre-booking, so make inquiries and take advantage if that’s available.
- Consider leaving a day or two earlier (or later) than the traditional break. Doing so can mean less stress at the airport and cheaper flights.
- Reserve your spots on the dive boat in advance. If you’re on a liveaboard this takes care of itself, obviously, but resort dive shops or other operators need to know you’re coming. There are only so many tank berths on the boats, and only so much rental equipment available. Your operator staffs boats based on reservations, so help them be properly prepare.
- Communicate special requests ahead of time. Letting the operator know if you need nitrox, rental equipment, or want to visit a particular dive site helps them make arrangements to accommodate you. Mention your dive experience and certification level when you book. That way the shop can group you with similar divers and visit appropriate dive sites.
- Be prepared as a diver. If you haven’t been diving for a while, let the shop know you’d like to do a refresher course — training agencies recommend this after six months of diving inactivity. It’s much safer to practice your skills in six feet of water rather than realizing you’ve forgotten them on an 80-foot dive. Consider hiring a private dive guide if you have children or apprehensive beginners in the group, at least for the first few dives. Bring extra batteries and back-up gear as space permits. Test your equipment before you leave home, making sure it’s in working order. Take it in for service or repair if necessary.
- Be patient — you’re on vacation. You may have to wait while you check in, or on the first dive of a week-long trip as people are getting organized on the boat. Dive staff are helpful, so give them a chance to assist you and those around you. Try not to wait until the last minute to check in at the dive shop. Go in before your first dive day and chose rental gear. Organize your dive locker if you have one, and get a basic orientation and directions if required.
- Have your documentation in order. Bring certification cards, logbooks, training paperwork if you’re completing a course and hard copies of confirmation e-mails with reservation numbers and proof of payment. If you need a doctor’s approval for some reason, get the medical form ahead of time. Don’t spend part of your vacation in a doctors’ office when you could have done so at home. Often a dive shop can verify certifications and reservations if you don’t have them in hand, but it will take time and the shop probably can’t guarantee the service. Sometimes the power goes out in remote locations, rendering the internet inoperable. Reduce waits and inconvenience for yourself and those in line behind you by bringing your paperwork.
- Be flexible. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. The visibility isn’t perfect, or another dive boat tied off on your intended buoy. Your operator will take you to the best location under the circumstances. Enjoy your dives and make the most of each one.
- Express appreciation for your dive crew. People who didn’t spend Christmas with their families made that unforgettable dive you did with your family or friends on Christmas Day possible. A verbal “thank you,” and a gratuity if service is good is especially welcome behavior during a holiday season.
Follow a few of these tips and you’ll find although that booking a dive vacation in peak season might be a little more hassle upfront, it’ll be worth it once you arrive.
By guest blogger Christie Ball